On July 7, 2005, at 13:02 British Standard Time (BST), Vikram Solanki became the first super substitute against Australia at Leeds. Sarang Bhalerao revisits the day when Solanki made cricket history.
Udaipur-born Vikram Solanki is one of the most stylish batsmen of his generation. His 51 match One-Day International (ODI) career saw him score 1,097 runs at an average of 26.75 which is not a good reading considering the anticipation people had looking at his poise and timing.
Solanki however has a unique first in ODI cricket. He was the first super substitute in ODI cricket. According to the experimental rule, the twelfth man in an ODI could replace any player at any point in time to take up the bowling, batting or wicketkeeping responsibility. The substituted player then had no further part in the match. This move tested the acumen of the captains.
England skipper Michael Vaughan had put Australia in to bat in the overcast conditions. The English bowlers got wickets at regular intervals. Simon Jones in particular bowled tight line and length. Vaughan made him bowl in the middle overs and the 31st over of the Australian innings was Jones’s last. Jones conceded 28 runs of his 10 overs. Australia were 116 for four at that point.
At the end of the 31st over Jones was replaced by Solanki. Umpire Rudi Koertzen made a “T” sign to announce the substitution. Jones later said that it was not pre-planned who would be substituted but it was clear that it would be a tailender.
Jones told Sky Sports: “I think Steve Harmison‘s quite jealous that I’m the lucky one.”
“I’ll hang around and watch the boys now!”
England put pressure on Australia. Paul Collingwood picked up four wickets and Australia could put on only 219.
England got off to a solid start with Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss scoring a century stand. Australia’s bowlers: Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds were unable to create any chances. Seeing their ineffectiveness Australian skipper Ricky Ponting brought supersub Brad Hogg in the 22nd over in place of Matthew Hayden who technically had no further part to play in the game. But Hayden did come back on the field, albeit as a 12th man when Watson strained his left thigh.
Hogg made an immediate impact with his third delivery dismissing Strauss caught behind for 41. But that was the only success Australia got since Vaughan was in an aggressive mood. The English second-wicket partnership played with complete authority. Trescothick scored an unbeaten 104 and Vaughan made a polished 59.
Solanki’s services were not required as England notched up their biggest win over Australia (in terms of wickets) at Headingley.
The super substitute experiment didn’t last for too long. In 2006 the International Cricket Council (ICC) scrapped the rule as it tended to benefit the side winning the toss.
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)
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